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Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Sissy Spacek and more to narrate Bob Dylan’s new audiobook

By | Published on Monday 26 September 2022

Bob Dylan

The list of narrators for the audio version of Bob Dylan’s new book has been revealed. Because, after spending twelve years writing his examination of modern songwriting, he’s fucked if he’s going to spend hours in a studio reading it himself.

So, instead, the 66 essays that make up ‘The Philosophy Of Modern Song’ will be read aloud by the likes of Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Sissy Spacek, John Goodman, Renée Zellweger and Jeff Bridges.

Dylan – who won the Nobel Prize For Literature for his own lyrics in 2016 – started work on the book in 2010, giving his own critiques of a wide range of songs and culminating in what publisher Simon & Schuster calls “his extraordinary insight into the nature of popular music”.

Before you get all excited about getting insight into what Bob Dylan thinks of modern musicians like Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and Ed Sheeran (which I know you were), you should probably know that his definition of ‘modern’ pop music is a bit different to yours. For starters, the book includes an essay about Stephen Foster’s ‘Nelly Was A Lady’, which was written in 1849. The newest song on the list is Warren Zevon’s ‘Dirty Life And Times’ from 2003.

For the most part, the book focuses on the 1960s, and doesn’t really get much past the 80s. Still, it will let you know what Dylan thinks of songs like ‘London Calling’ by The Clash, Elvis Costello’s ‘Pump It Up’, ‘Truckin’ by The Grateful Dead, and ‘My Generation’ by The Who, as well as songs recorded by artists including Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash, Cher, Frank Sinatra and more.

Says the publisher: “’The Philosophy Of Modern Song’ contains much of what [Dylan] has learned about his craft in all those years, and like everything that [he] does, it is a momentous artistic achievement”.

I’m not sure they’ve heard his Christmas album. But anyway, the book and its accompanying celeb-filled audiobook will be out on 1 Nov.